Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman and the LCSO has received and answered numerous questions from our community regarding the reprehensible and criminal actions of the officers with the Minneapolis Police Department surrounding the death of George Floyd. (Statement from Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman: Every Citizen has a Voice in Loudoun County)
This page includes information on our commitment to the training of our deputies to protect and preserve life, and the most frequently asked questions received from our community of the agency’s Body Worn Camera (BWC) program, de-escalation training, and response to resistance (use of force) investigations.
The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office has been at the forefront of de-escalation training, utilizing technology for the safety of our residents and deputies, and has been recognized both regionally and nationally as a model agency for our Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) program. The CIT program ensures that all of our residents are treated with compassion and respect.
We engage our community through courteous and proactive outreach and communication and work diligently to constantly improve our professionalism and will continue to be transparent in our actions and policies. The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office encourages active engagement from all of our community members and our office works tirelessly to ensure that Loudoun County is the best place to live, work, and visit.
As part of these efforts, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office hosts a Citizens’ Police Academy twice a year to further engage and provide Loudoun residents and business owners with the knowledge and understanding of our personnel, policies, and practices.
Body Worn & In-car Cameras
The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office was one of the first agencies in the Northern Virginia region to initiate a body worn camera (BWC) pilot program. We currently have 46 body worn cameras distributed to deputies throughout the agency and 306 in-car cameras installed in every cruiser within the operations division. In the FY18 budget process, there was discussion of the expansion of the body-worn camera program. This came after the Loudoun Sheriff’s Office request for the expansion of the BWC pilot program using the FY16 fund balance. The Board of Supervisors did not approve the use of the fund balance for the program at that time.
The expansion of the Body Worn Camera program may be a topic of discussion during the next budget season for the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors who approve the funding for increasing cameras.
Deputies deploy with and activate their body worn and in-car cameras every day they work. The Body Worn Cameras are to be activated during every law enforcement–public encounter related to a call for service or law enforcement action, subject stop, traffic stop, and/or deputy services provided that such activation does not interfere with officer/deputy safety or the safety of others. The in-car cameras are automatically activated when emergency equipment (lights & sirens) are turned on. The cameras can also be turned on manually.
Response to Resistance/Use of Force
We want to assure residents that anytime a deputy is involved in a physical encounter, even the most slight, it is investigated whether a complaint is received or not. A supervisor will evaluate the application, necessity, and reasonableness of the response to resistance when conducting a thorough and objective review of the incident. A use of force incident is documented and reviewed by the members of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office leadership and executive teams.
In the past nine years, there has been two excessive use of force complaints that were sustained. In both of those cases, the deputies were released from the agency.
- De-escalation training begins upon the hiring of each deputy as they attend the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy (NVCJTA) and is further enhanced during our Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) and Advanced Crisis Intervention Training. As you may be aware, the LCSO has been recognized both regionally and nationally as a model agency for our CIT program. You can learn more about our training below and information on training policies and philosophies at the NVCJTA.
- De-escalation is a part of the training of every new recruit at the NVCJTA. This is taught in classroom training and reinforced through practical, hands-on training. Even a wall inside the facility reads: Distance + Cover = Time. This reinforces de-escalation during any encounter to slow it down, formulate a plan, and communicate. Again, this process is reinforced in our CIT program, where communication is the key to de-escalating any situation.
- A chokehold is not a police tactic and is not taught as a form of training. Loudoun County Sheriff’s Deputies are explicitly trained not to use chokeholds.
- Whenever feasible, warnings shall be given and verbal commands are stressed for every use of force. All deputies with the LCSO will exhaust all means before using deadly force and it is always a last resort.
- It is clear in our policies that all deputies have an affirmative duty to act if they observe another deputy using force that is clearly beyond that which is objectively reasonable under the circumstances and shall safely intercede to prevent the use of excessive force. Deputies shall promptly report any such incident to a supervisor.
- It is also clear in our policies that deputies shall not discharge a weapon at or from a moving vehicle except under the most aggravated circumstances.
- Anytime a deputy uses force it must be objectively reasonable, and use of force is required to be documented. If a deputy is involved in a physical encounter, even the most slight, it is investigated whether a complaint is received or not. A supervisor will evaluate the application, necessity, and reasonableness of the response to resistance when conducting a thorough and objective review of the incident. A documented use of force incident is reviewed by the members of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office leadership and executive teams. Any threats of force would involve a criminal act, and be documented in the corresponding report.
All new LCSO employees receive mandatory training within the first 10 days of hire, to include diversity training and Sexual Harassment Awareness training. Upon their initial hiring, all new hires are presented ethics training by members of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) Internal Affairs section, to include implicit bias training.
New patrol deputies continue their law enforcement education at the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy during a 6-month training academy, which includes implicit bias training with Dr. Joseph Williams from the University of Virginia, as well as Policing a Diverse Society. After completion of the six-month academy, the deputies receive four months of field training prior to being released on their own to the Patrol Division.
The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office works tirelessly to take pro-active measures to train, educate, and provide support services to all staff.
Some of these initiatives include:
- Providing deputies and staff with in-service training on a myriad of topics to include: Fair and Impartial Policing, Implicit Bias & Policing in a Diverse Environment, Unconscious Bias, Racial Ethnic and Disparity, Cultural Diversity, Cultural Diversity in the School Setting, Understanding Conflict, Conflict Resolution, and Decision Making are to name just a few.
- In 2012, the LCSO created a nationally recognized Crisis Intervention Team (CIT). This team is designed to protect the safety, dignity, and rights of persons suffering from mental health issues and protect the community from potentially dangerous behavior. CIT deputies have specialized training in recognizing signs and symptoms of persons experiencing a behavioral crisis while maintaining officer and public safety.
- Formation of a Peer Support Team which assists members of the department with connecting to services such as the Employees Assistance Program, Virginia Law Enforcement Assistance Program, Loudoun First Responders Foundation, Boulder Crest Retreat, etc.
- In March of 2020, the LCSO instituted a COVID-19 Resource Team to assist all employees in managing the undue stress caused by the pandemic. This team works in concert with County Human Resources to provide guidance and offer any available resources to help employees and their families navigate through these unprecedented times.
- Other programs and services that are offered to the community include the Chaplain Program, Victim Services, Community Outreach & Education, Project Lifesaver, Operation Inventory, Security Survey Services, fingerprinting services, etc.
The LCSO is accredited by the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission (VLEPSC) and was called a ‘model agency’ in the Commonwealth of Virginia after obtaining reaccreditation in 2017. This designation, first awarded to the LCSO in 1999, was established to provide law enforcement agencies in the Commonwealth with an avenue for demonstrating that they meet commonly accepted standards for efficient and effective agency operation.
Agencies wishing to retain accredited status must complete the accreditation process every four years. During the four-year period, the agency must submit annual reports attesting to the continued compliance with accreditation standards. The standards of accreditation cover all aspects of the agency to include patrol, administrative and special operation functions, court security, civil process, criminal investigations, and budget.
If you should have further questions, please visit our Citizen Feedback page.